Google’s historic aerials have shuffled dates.

Before Google Earth 5 had come out, I had commented to a few people that the dates for the aerial photos (which used to be displayed in the bottom center of the screen) were way off for New Jersey. The date was reported as 2004, but it was clearly 2007 imagery.

Well, this little problem is now a bigger issue. In browsing the area around Rowan University (where considerable development has occurred in stages between 2002 and 2008), I noticed several places where the “2004″ imagery shows a further progression of development than the (actual) 2006 photography. I’ve prepared a KMZ file with annotated points, highlighting places where the development that is visible in the “2004″ aerials had not yet occurred in 2004.

Considering I had noticed this discrepancy throughtout the State before Google allowed you to transition through the older imagery, I took a look at another location in the State where development is occuring, Newark. Google Earth has 11 different sets of photography available for Newark. The very big problem is that the default imagery is pre-Prudential Center. This is even reflected in Google Maps. The default images in both Maps and Earth is now the “December 30, 2002″ images. Many of the buildings that are in Street View for Newark are not to be found on the aerial photography. The 2002 data is the second-oldest data available, but it’s now the default.

This seems like a pretty big mixup for Google to make. We’ve gone from posting imagery within the same day to reverting back to a 4 to 6 year lag.

Find another place in the State (or elsewhere) where the dates are obviously wrong? Let me know in the comments.

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